Student Internship Opportunities

The Great Lakes Research and Education Center supports science and science communication internships in Great Lakes National Parks.

Science Communication Internship
Spring Semester, 2022

Would you like to use your creative skills to help people learn about scientific research and national park resources? The Great Lakes Research and Education Center and Dunes Learning Center are looking for a part-time spring semester intern to create social media posts to help people learn about research taking place in national parks within the Great Lakes Network.

Work responsibilities include surveying existing social media posts relevant to research in Great Lakes national parks; communicating with scientists; reading research reports; developing posts about research and its relevance to park management; soliciting photographs, permissions, and waivers from researchers and photographers; and developing a social media calendar. Supervision/mentorship will be provided by Great Lakes Research and Education Center staff.

The internship period is from mid-January to early-May, with some flexibility in start and end dates.

There will be opportunities to learn about careers in the National Park Service and may be occasional opportunities for field work at Indiana Dunes National Park.

In this era of COVID-19, work which does not require the selected candidate’s presence at the park will be conducted via telework. The intern will receive a total stipend of $5,120, based on working 20 hours/week for 16 weeks at $16/hour. They will be paid biweekly. Interns are required to provide transportation to Indiana Dunes National Park when it is deemed necessary, their own computer and internet service, and a telephone. This position is open to current college students and recent graduates. Women and people from under-tapped communities are especially encouraged to apply.

About the Great Lakes Research and Education Center: The Great Lakes Research and Education Center increases the effectiveness and communication of scientific research in eleven national parks in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We are part of a network of Research Learning Centers established by the National Park Service to facilitate the use of parks for scientific inquiry, promote science literacy and resource stewardship, and integrate science into park resource management, educational outreach programs, and visitor experiences.

Support for this internship comes from the National Park Service.

How to Apply: To apply for an internship, email the following to e-mail us before January 3, 2022.

The following should be included in the application packet, and compiled into a single PDF:

1) Cover letter - Why are you a good candidate?
2) Résumé - Include relevant jobs, volunteer, and/or life experiences.
3) References - Include contact information for at least two.
4) Transcript – An unofficial copy will suffice.
5) Writing Sample – Submit one or two short articles or outreach pieces you have created.

A Letter of recommendation from a teacher/professor or supervisor (can include volunteer supervisors) should be submitted directly by the letter writer to Wendy Smith at the email address above.

Meet a few of our recent "star" interns!

Photo of a woman sitting in front of her computer above a graphic of two arms reaching out, one over invasive mussel infested water and the other over clean water with fish.  Text reads, "the future of our lakes is in your hands."
Leah Carter, a recent graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, created a wide variety of outreach products to help people understand ways they can prevent the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Superior and the water of five national parks.

Photo by Leah Carter

Leah Carter, Invasive Mussel Outreach Intern, 2021

Leah Carter served as an Invasive Mussel Outreach Intern during the spring semester of 2021 and did a phenomenal job! She graduated from Illinois Wesleyan College with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Anthropology. She is passionate about connecting with people and helping them have a positive impact on the world.

Leah is super creative. Not only that, but she has lots of great graphic design and media development skills in her back pocket which she really put to work for the National Park Service! She created high quality graphics, videos, flyers, information cards, web articles, Facebook posts, and more! All were designed to help people learn about the problems associated with quagga and zebra mussels and ways they can stop the spread of these invasive species, particularly in Lake Superior and the waters in and around Voyageurs National Park, Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Grand Portage National Monument.

Though Leah teleworked for the vast majority of her internship, she did get to talk with lots of NPS employees and partners about their various careers and she even had a chance to get in some field work assisting with resource management and research projects at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Leah says, “I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at the National Park Service. It was an enriching experience… every single person I talked to was friendly and willing to take the time to talk to me and teach me about jobs in the NPS. I connected with people from diverse fields…from scientists to interpreters to graphic designers. I was encouraged to use my creativity when developing invasive species outreach materials…and take initiative on my own creative projects, which was really fun for me.”

We can’t thank Leah enough for all her wonderful work, and we know that she will be a tremendous asset to her employers in her next position!
A woman sitting at a dining room table talks on her cell phone while looking at her computer screen and taking notes.
Ariana Bulatovich interviewed eleven women who conduct research or otherwise work with science in national parks within the Great Lakes Network. The articles she wrote based on these interviews can be found on this website.

Phtoto by Milos Galic

Ariana Bulatovich, Women in Science Intern, 2020

The summer of 2020 found Ariana Bulatovich, a graduate student in history at Purdue University Northwest, learning about the National Park Service (NPS) and eleven women who have used their scientific skills to help national parks in the Great Lakes Region. Ariana served as the Great Lakes Research and Education Center’s 2020 Women in Science intern, thanks to support from the Friends of Indiana Dunes. During her internship, which was a little different due to COVID, Ariana investigated the variety of parks across the country as well as the variety of careers available in NPS from her computer at home. Ariana was impressed that the National Parks Service holds so many historical sites. She says, “As a young historian, that makes me happy.” She spoke with people in a variety of careers in addition to investigating them on-line. She was very excited about curator positions. “I can see myself doing this job, because a curator shares everything they find and learn with the public. To me, that’s my life goal. Through social media or through a museum, that’s what I want to do.”

The meat and potatoes of her internship was spent conducting interviews and writing the stories of eleven women whose work in national parks has made a difference, with a focus on their experiences as women in science. Many of her stories are now available on our website!
Close up of three young women smiling. One woman is wearing a ranger uniform.
Indiana Sustainability Development Program intern, Sarah Miller (left), GLREC Research Coordinator and intern Supervisor, Desi Robertson (center), and Mosaics-in-Science intern, Ansley Watkins (right).

Photo by Sarah Miller

Ansley Watkins and Sarah Miller, Pollinataor Interns, 2019

Ansley Watkins and Sarah Miller served as our 2019 Pollinator Stewards! Ansley, a Mosaics-in-Science intern, was responsible for developing a GIS map of the distribution of several hundred native bee species across the Great Lakes basin to be used in conservation planning. Sarah was an intern with the Indiana Sustainability Development Program, and her main task was to create a number of pollinator education resources. The two also assisted in the field on pollinator research projects, presented several pollinator education programs, and even helped out with a film project! They did a remarkable job!
A woman in a blue kayak floats down a river.
Olivia Poelmann, one of three Aquatic Invasive Species Interns, monitors for invasive yellow irises along the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.

St. Croix River Association

Olivia Poelmann, Katie Hands, and Jessica Bryzek
Aquatic Invasive Species Interns, 2018

Olivia Poelmann, Katie Hands, and Jessica Bryzek, spent the summer working along the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway monitoring and removing the invasive yellow iris. The team housed themselves in Trego, Wisconsin, while they paddled eighty-five miles of the Namekagon in June. They used GPS tracking devices to monitor the spread of the plant as they paddled the river. In addition, they removed yellow iris along multiple stretches of the St. Croix River. Their work will help resource managers understand how the invasive iris spreads, and will inform decisions about the location of future work to remove the plant. This year, the interns also talked with people they encountered about the problem iris, and staffed booths at local events to help inform the public of the dangers of the invasive plant and the need to remove it. These industrious interns worked directly for the St. Croix River Association with support from the Great Lakes Research and Education Center.

A young woman photographs a man holding a small plastic sample vial.
Colleen Otte, 2017 Science Communication Intern, photographs a scientist during his visit to Indiana Dunes National Park to collect water samples.
Colleen Otte, Science Communication Intern, 2017

Colleen created a Facebook page for the Great Lakes Research and Education Center, developing relationships with scientists and resource managers from across our network of 11 parks to gather information for her Facebook posts. She spent time behind the computer, on the phone, and most importantly in the field as she put her skills as both a photographer and a journalist to work. She also created two articles on bat monitoring and a number of social media posts for the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network, who, along with the Dunes Learning Center, helped sponsor her internship.
A young woman at a vernal pool works with a GPS unit.
Nemesis Ortiz maps vernal pools as part of her Young Leaders in Climate Change internship.

Colleen Otte

Némesis Ortiz, Young Leaders in Climate Change (YLCC) Intern, 2017

Némesis spent her summer both inside and out, researching methods, identifying data gaps, and collecting ancillary data needed to characterize vernal pools and assess their vulnerability to climate change. At Indiana Dunes National Park, she conducted field surveys in the upland dunes area of Cowles Bog to locate wetlands and determine their status as vernal pools. Némesis assessed the accuracy and precision of remote sensing techniques to detect vernal pools and developed a framework for assessing their resiliency to climate change.

A young man sweeps an insect net as he walks across a prairie.
Jacob Villalpando, 2017 Mosaics in Science Diversity Intern, collects insects as part of his Pollinator Stewardship Project.

Colleen Otte

Jacob Villalpando, Mosaics in Science Diversity Intern, 2017

Jacob spent time in the field, in the lab, and in the classroom as a Mosaics Pollinator Steward intern at Indiana Dunes National Park. He gained valuable hands-on experience in both research and science outreach by collecting updated data on native bee diversity in the park and developing a citizen science project on native pollinators. Jacob even tried his hand at teaching, as he shared about his stewardship project during an entomology workshop for educators held in June.

Last updated: December 8, 2021